Australia back to their old self with 2nd gold

Last updated 16:01 07/08/2012
Tom Slingsby
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GOLD...FINALLY: Tom Slingsby's gold has Australia looking on the bright side.

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"Aus Zealand" has joined the USSR and East Germany as a former Olympic Games powerhouse. Just one day after it was formed, the nation is now history.

Conceived yesterday by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in response to New Zealand claiming more gold medals (3) than Australia's solitary success, the trans-Tasman neighbours are rivals once again thanks to Tom Slingsby winning sailing's Laser title last night.

Australia's first individual gold medal of the Games - an eternity after the women's 4x100 freestyle relay team on the first day of competition - gave the Sydney-based Telegraph enough confidence to split the nations on their back page today.

Provisionally sitting uncomfortably in 16th overall - just two spots behind New Zealand on the medal table - Australia are poised to pull clear unless the 49ers pairing of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen somehow lose their bearings enroute to the start line at Weymouth tonight.

They only have to make the final race to claim Australia's third gold.

After harrowing experiences in the aquatic complex and inside the velodrome, the Australian Olympic Committee is now optimistic their team can come home with the proverbial wet sail.

The 470 crew lead their fleet while Australia also boast the reigning men's and women's BMX world champions, with those medals set to be decided early Saturday.

World champion 100m hurdler Sally Pearson, the gold medal favourite, is also in imperious form ahead of her semi-final tonight and tomorrow morning's (NZT) final, while track cycling legend Anna Meares has an opportunity to redeem herself in the women's sprint.

Concerns Australia would finish behind New Zealand on the medal table for the first time since the Los Angeles Games in 1984 appear to have eased following Valerie Adams' silver medal in the shot put early today, though Beijing silver medallist Nick Willis has a chance to go one better in the 1500m final tomorrow.

Australian Olympic team deputy leader Kitty Chiller yesterday admitted eclipsing New Zealand was their No 1 priority now reeling in third-placed Great Britain and finishing in the top five was no longer realistic.

"To catch GB (Great Britain) now, I don't like to use the words 'nigh-on impossible' but it's going to be extremely difficult," Ms Chiller said.

"New Zealand - we don't want to suffer jokes for the next three years and 50 weeks until Rio, so hopefully we can overcome them."

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Apart from their success in the yachting regatta, Australia was also lauding the achievements of the Boomers men's basketball team after they beat Russia on the buzzer last night, while the men's volleyballers and water polo sides also secured memorable victories in pool play.

The only downside was the Hockeyroos exit from the women's competition before the medal round, a 1-0 loss to New Zealand in the opening round proved costly.

- Fairfax Media

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